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(wŏp`ĭtē), large North American deer, Cervus canadensis, closely related to the Old World red deer. It is commonly called elkelk,
name applied to several large members of the deer family. It most properly designates the largest member of the family, Alces alces, found in the northern regions of Eurasia and North America. In North America this animal is called moose.
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 in America although the name elk is used in Europe to refer to the moosemoose,
largest member of the deer family, genus Alces, found in the northern parts of Eurasia and North America. The Eurasian species, A. alces, is known in Europe as the elk, a name which in North America is applied to another large deer, the wapiti.
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. The wapiti is grayish brown, with a chestnut mane and yellowish rump patch and short tail. It is the largest of the deer family besides the moose; the male stands up to 5 ft (150 cm) at the shoulder and weighs up to 1,000 lb (450 kg). The male has antlers with 5 or more points on each branch and up to a 5-ft (150-cm) spread.

Once abundant throughout temperate North America, the wapiti was slaughtered for food, leather, and sport and for its canine teeth (used as charms). It was completely exterminated in the E United States and reduced in numbers elsewhere, but since the early 1900s small populations have been introduced in the East. Several varieties now exist, mostly under protection in national parks and wildlife refuges. Two of these are the Rocky Mountain elk, found from N Mexico to central Alberta and used in eastern restoration efforts, and the larger Roosevelt, or Olympic, elk, found in forests of the Pacific coastal belt from British Columbia to N California. The dwarf, or tule elk, is a small, light-colored deer of E California.

The Old World red deer, C. elaphus, is smaller than the wapiti; males stand about 4 ft (120 cm) at the shoulder and have antlers up to 4 ft (120 cm) long. Its coat is reddish brown. It is found in wooded areas throughout the cold and temperate portions of Eurasia and in N Africa. Several other species of the genus Cervus are found in Asia. The sambar, C. unicolor, is a large brown deer of SE Asia.

Members of the genus Cervus and other deer are classified in the phylum ChordataChordata
, phylum of animals having a notochord, or dorsal stiffening rod, as the chief internal skeletal support at some stage of their development. Most chordates are vertebrates (animals with backbones), but the phylum also includes some small marine invertebrate animals.
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, subphylum Vertebrata, class Mammalia, order Artiodactyla, family Cervidae.

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a large deer, Cervus canadensis, with large much-branched antlers, native to North America and now also common in the South Island of New Zealand
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005